Mushroom hunting (they can be sneaky little bastards) is on in the Czech Republic. My wife and I had a successful outing this weekend, as you can see.
I think that this is one of my favorite locale customs. Czechs go nuts for hunting mushrooms. They watch the weather, a good hunt follows rain. In the morning one must watch for fog clouds hanging over the forest, that’s where you’ll find them. You must be early, or others will jump your favorite spots. Late in the morning you can count on running into many others in the woods. And neighbors watch you closely as you return home to see the contents of your basket, and offer congratulations for a success and otherwise a chuckle.
The custom was totally new for me many (many) years ago when I first arrived. But having married a Czech you must pick up these things. My first attempts yielded little, mushrooms tend to blend into their environment. I got better. My basket was usually full. However, it quickly emptied after a safety inspection. Poison ones are obvious, bright red for example, but some look very much like the good ones. Now, I can hold my own ground with any Czech.
My wife and I now eagerly anticipate each coming season. And she has broadened the traditional Czech mushroom menu, soups, omelets and fried, with risotto and spreads soaked in port. Yum.
In the last two countries we have lived, Romania and Belgium, we found that people don’t pick mushrooms. In Belgium there is even a law against it as the woods are considered private property of sorts. This only means that we have the whole forest to ourselves. Sure, people stop and stare and give us funny looks. But what are we supposed to do? Leave them?